During the height of lockdown, if you weren't baking bread or learning a new TikTok dance, you were probably making home improvements. In fact, Google searches for ‘DIY’ hit a 16-year high during this period, with many Brits using their extra time indoors to tick off odd jobs around the home.
However, mistakes can prove costly, with some renovation projects potentially knocking tens of thousands of pounds off your property value.
To help homeowners complete their DIY tasks safely and to a high standard, sofa and carpet specialist, ScS, has revealed and answered the UK’s five most common ‘how to fix...’ Google searches.
1: How to fix… a dripping tap (12,000 searches over the last 12 months - up 50% year-on-year)
A dripping tap can be both irritating and costly. To fix it, you’ll need to replace either an internal rubber seal or a ceramic cartridge, depending on the style of tap. Firstly, turn off your water at the stopcock or isolation valve, then switch on the tap to release leftover liquid.
Next, plug the sink and remove the screw inside the handle so you can lift off the tap head and any metal cover. Hold the tap spout steady while you unscrew the brass spindle/valve that is now visible. Replace the washers on either end of the spindle with new ones from a hardware store, before reassembling the tap and turning the water back on.
2: How to fix… cracked plaster (2,210 searches - up 51%)
Having cracks in your walls is not a good look. Put a dust sheet down and then, using a Stanley knife, cut into the crack so you make a V-shaped groove. Remove any debris in the crack.
Next, lightly dampen the area, before spreading a thin layer of filler into the groove, ensuring it goes right to the base of the crack. Remove any overflow and then, once dry, sand down the space to make it smooth. You may need to complete this task again the following day to ensure the crack is filled.
3: How to fix… a toilet flush (1,480 searches - up 30%)
There are many reasons why a toilet won’t flush, but two of the most common are water levels being too low or the flapper being damaged.
If the water in the toilet cistern is more than an inch below the overflow tube, manually adjust the fill valve to top it up. Turning the adjustment screw on the ball valve anti-clockwise will add water.
If the flapper is damaged, the cistern won’t release enough water to flush the toilet. The flapper is found at the bottom of the toilet and replacements are cheap to buy from plumbing stores.
4: How to fix… creaky stairs (800 searches - up 85%)
Creaky stairs are generally more of an annoyance than a risk, but it’s best to address the problem before it worsens. Creaking is usually caused by a piece of wood rubbing against another, or against a nail or screw.
The squeak may be due to a tread (the horizontal pieces you stand on) moving against a riser (the vertical parts between stairs). This can be solved by securing the connection with either screws or nails or gluing a quadrant moulding onto the joining between the two sections.
5: How to fix… a sagging sofa (790 searches - up 46%)
If you’ve had your sofa for a while, you may notice it starts to sag a little and there are a few reasons why this might be.
Firstly, check if it’s the cushions - unzip the casing and see if they need topping up. If there is room, stuff them with additional material, either polyester fiberfill or full foam padding.
The problem could also be with the springs. Coils in older sofas can get bent or twisted, so use pliers to move them back into shape. If they are hard to move or completely broken, take them to a professional repair shop. Newer sofas might have zig-zag springs, which can sometimes come off their clips, causing the sagging. Scan the clips at the frame’s edge and if any are misshapen, replacements are cheap to buy.
Dale Gillespie, Head of Acquisition at ScS, said: “Whether it’s because people don’t feel comfortable enough to have tradesmen in their house just yet, or simply because they fancy giving some DIY a go, there’s certainly been a huge rise in people tackling projects themselves.
“We’ve answered the most common DIY questions Brits are Googling, so hopefully more people will feel confident giving it a go. However, if you are not fully sure how to do something, it’s always best to hire a professional.”